It’s been awhile since I’ve bought a book fresh off the presses and read it immediately. I read Stephen King’s The Shining earlier this year and when I discovered that his forthcoming Doctor Sleep was a sequel, I went to one of my favorite bookstore sites and pre-ordered a copy. I spent this past week captivated by his latest book.
One of the things I found most interesting about Doctor Sleep was that it was a novel about psychic vampires. This is hardly a new concept. Lots of authors have imagined vampires that drain psychic energy instead of blood. However, King’s twist is that the psychic energy must come from children with telepathic powers—the so-called shining of the first novel. Not only do they drain the psychic energy, they must rip it from the children by torturing and killing them.
Now some people who know my work with Tales of the Talisman Magazine may find it odd that this storyline would work for me. After all, I have a strict guideline about no stories that depict violence to children. The reason I have that guideline is that there was a spell where I received several stories that glorified violence to children, as though the person writing the story honestly fantasized about such violence. I don’t find that enjoyable and, fortunately, Stephen King doesn’t go there. He skillfully crafts characters that are truly evil. His images of torture are the nightmare images parents have about their own children, not the hateful images of a deranged mind. Despite that, he gives us glimpses of the psychic vampires’ lost humanity. He shows us the tragedy of these characters without diminishing the evil of their actions.
Another element I found interesting about the novel was the way it paralleled the narrative of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s not exact, which good homages rarely are, but I was struck by parallels between Dracula’s Mina and Doctor Sleep’s Abra, between Doctor Van Helsing and Dan Torrance. Right down to the final battle—and I’ll avoid spoilers—where there’s a long distance chase to a strange, hostile land.
All in all, Doctor Sleep proved to be a good Halloween read this year. It’s certainly worth checking out. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear what you thought. In the meantime, if would like some more tales of vampires, please take a few minutes and drop by my new and improved author page at davidleesummers.com and check out Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and Vampires of the Scarlet Order.